x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Hamilton faces Belgian GP hearing

Lewis Hamilton and his bosses at McLaren attend a hearing at F1 headquarters that will decide whether to reinstate his Belgian GP victory.

Lewis Hamilton, centre, leaves the FIA's headquarters in Paris.
Lewis Hamilton, centre, leaves the FIA's headquarters in Paris.

PARIS // Lewis Hamilton and his bosses at McLaren attended a hearing today at Formula One headquarters that will decide whether to reinstate his Belgian Grand Prix victory and give a welcome boost to his drivers' championship hopes. After three hours of meetings, Hamilton emerged and walked to the neighbouring Hotel Crillon in central Paris surrounded by bodyguards, ignoring reporters' questions.

Lawyers for McLaren, Ferrari and the FIA presented their arguments at the morning session before breaking for lunch. The hearing was to resume in the afternoon, with the ruling expected to be announced tomorrow. The hearing follows the McLaren team's appeal of a 25-second time penalty handed to Hamilton at Spa earlier this month when the British driver was judged to have gained an advantage by cutting a chicane on his way to victory. After the penalty, the win was awarded to Hamilton's main championship rival Felipe Massa of Ferrari, while Hamilton was bumped down to third.

Hamilton's lead over Massa in the drivers' standings is now down to one point after last weekend's Italian Grand Prix. If he should win the appeal, Hamilton's championship lead will be increased to seven points with four races to go after he regains four points and Massa loses two. Hamilton flies to Singapore tomorrow ahead of Formuala One's first-ever night race on Sunday. "All we can do is present the facts," the McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said.

"We have just got to present the data and whatever the outcome is, that is the outcome." Three judges appointed to the International Court of Appeal will decide whether McLaren's appeal is justified. Hamilton was duelling with Massa's teammate Kimi Raikonnen at the closing stages of the Belgian Grand Prix and cut across the Bus Stop chicane to overtake the Finnish driver. Hamilton immediately allowed Raikonnen to reclaim the lead before overtaking him at the next corner for the eventual win.

The judges must decide if Hamilton sufficiently surrendered the advantage he had gained when cutting the chicane. *AP